Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 8, 2008 / 2 Adar I 5768

Taking issue with the Democratic race

By Jonah Goldberg


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | One thing we're learning from this election: These really are different parties.


First, look at the Democrats. Listen to the discussion about their strategies. Hillary needs to win more blacks and men. Obama must capture more Hispanics and peel away more white women. Both need to fight for "the youth."


Now look at the Republicans and how we talk about them. Can McCain win over conservatives? Should he apologize for his support of amnesty or his opposition to tax cuts? Can Romney convince pro-lifers? Will Huckabee ever make inroads with economic conservatives? Were Rudy's positions on gays, guns and abortion too liberal?


See what I'm getting at? If substance were water, the Democratic campaign would be a desert. Oh, I know, Hillary's a wonk, and Obama's got enough policy papers to fill the library at Alexandria. So what? Both Obama and Hillary insist there are no major policy differences between them, except for the war and health care.


Their disagreements on these two issues actually demonstrate how little separates them. On Iraq, Obama insists that he was right first. But both of them promise to pull troops out as fast as possible. The only argument between them is how fast that might be. It's hardly a Churchillian conversation.


As for health care, their disagreements are interesting to a few health-care wonks and activists — she wants to mandate universal coverage, he doesn't — but it's all absurdly academic. Anybody who knows anything about how Washington works understands that presidential campaign proposals are, at best, mere discussion documents when it comes time to craft actual legislation. Just as no plan long survives actual combat, no campaign baloney survives the congressional meat grinder unscathed.


But that's it. The rest of their disagreement boils down to who is a more authentic agent of "change." In fairness, there's an interesting debate to be had on that score, as Obama and Hillary's philosophies of government differ dramatically. Obama believes in a transformative politics where lofty — often gassy — rhetoric is not merely a substitute for action, but actually preferable to the nitty-gritty detail work Hillary prefers.


But that debate is almost entirely theoretical, drowned out by the mad scramble to assemble an identity-politics coalition of generic "Hispanics," "blacks," "white women," etc. It's amazing how complacent the media is in carrying on with this kind of nakedly reductionist analysis. The notion that Hispanics may be voting one way or another for reasons other than their ethnicity seems never to come up.


Meanwhile, on the Republican side, women, blacks and Hispanics vote too, but that's not how the demographics and coalitions of the right work. GOP candidates actually have to win over people who believe things. (After all, the famed, and tragically frayed, "Reagan coalition" was about different groups of principled people, not a mere hodgepodge of ethnicities and genders.) Exit pollsters ask GOP voters whether they're committed pro-lifers, whether they think the economy is the most important issue, etc. I'm sure they ask Democratic voters similar questions, but it's telling how little we hear about that. What Democratic voters actually believe doesn't seem to be that relevant, in large part because Democrats aren't voting their beliefs, they're voting affections.


Obama is "the one" — in Oprah's words — not because of his policies but because his is a transcendent, unifying, super-nifty-cool personality. Hillary, meanwhile, is staying aloft largely through her ability to guilt-trip female liberals into sticking with her. Her cultivated weepiness and dour lamentations about how she's been so picked on sometimes make it seem like she's setting up a political version of one of those "how does a Jewish mother change a lightbulb?" jokes. Answer: "It's all right; I'll just sit in the dark."


Recall how her crying jag in New Hampshire, which apparently turned things around for her, was all about how important it is to her to be president. Message: Go ahead and vote for Obama; I'll just sit here in the dark. Indeed, I've lost count of how many stories I've heard on public radio about Democratic women deciding to vote for Hillary out of guilt.


The Republican party is a mess, absolutely. Conservatives are sorting out what they believe, what heresies they can tolerate and what principles they will not bend on. At times this argument is loud, ugly and unfortunate. But you know what? At least it's an argument about something. On the Democratic side, if you strip away the crass appeals to identity politics, the emotional pandering and the helium-infused rhetoric, you're pretty much left with a campaign about nothing.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


To comment on JWR contributor Jonah Goldberg's column click here.

Jonah Goldberg Archives

© 2006 TMS

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles